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Three days of my Yachtmaster course are now in the bag. I am continuing to work hard, both in class and at home, so that when it comes time to take the exam, I will, to borrow some jiu-jitsu terminology, tap it out easily.

The tidal calculations we have been learning are mind numbing and the chart plotting laborious. I routinely fall into the same troubles that have plagued me since early grade school. That being, I think and write too fast, failing to check simple pieces of information which ultimately net me the wrong answer. Groan… I really need to work on that. After all that tedious stuff, it’s a welcome change for me to spend some time on simple memory work and yesterday’s memorization “homework” was the Collision Regulations Sound Signals for Restricted Visibility.

For those of us who don’t typically sail in fog, the system for signaling your presence and intentions by sound may seem overdone. There are however places where, at certain times of the year, fog is very common and it can last for days.

Signals by horns I was aware of. I also knew that many ships carried Bells (even we have one thanks to our friend Mike) although I didn’t until yesterday know their proper usage. The new one for me was the use of a Gong by vessels over 100m in length! Being in a fogged-in port must sound like a real symphony with all the bells, horns and gongs going off.

Did you know that a vessel over 100m in length, in restricted visibility, that has gone aground should ring a Bell in forepart, 3 strokes followed by rapid ringing for about 5 seconds, followed by 3 more strokes, followed by striking the Gong in afterpart of the vessel for about 5 seconds? Perhaps all that ringing is to signal that the Captain of that vessel will be looking for a new job?


  1. I guess in the day, there were only bells and whistles to signal with. With today’s technology was is the protocol with fog now?

    • It is all still relevant and used I believe.

      Although I have not tested this because we don’t have an external speaker attached to it, our VHF radio will automatically blast out the appropriate sound signals at the proper intervals if you tell it too.

  2. when I was in rehab for my stroke, one of the tests for assessing my cognition was an audio test of elevator beeps, after simple explanation I had to listen to an extednded play of elevator beeps and tell the occupational therapist which floor I was on. talk about GROAN. It was the hardest and demeaning thing I ever experienced, (god forbid and I forbid it too) you ever find yourself in my position you’ll breeze through it. Good luck with this whole thing. I cringe at the thought of doing any course, unles its knitting related and even that challenges my cognition… still. but in a good way.

  3. The USCG captain that taught my captain’s course had an interesting mnemonic for remembering the bell signal for “vessel aground in restricted visibility.” Since it is a variation on the “vessel anchored” signal (the vessel is, after a fashion, anchored) he said that one should remember it this way:
    I’am an A-hole, A-hole, A-hole (three strikes on the bell)
    Because I’ve got myself anchored to the bottom (quick striking of the bell)
    Because I’m and A-hole, A-hole, A-hole (three strikes on the bell)
    Try it; it works!

  4. Rebecca must be proud. I see you have promoted her, she’s got two stripes and a load of medals, AND she is allowed to ring the bell!

    It just shows what a year at sea can do.


    (ok, I will go now 🙂 )

  5. Hey Kid’s,
    Love the idea of what your doing. Is the reality of actually doing it much different than what you imagined? I started a little research, looking at the different makes of catteramans. I like the boat you have. I was looking at a 42ft. Lagoon. I really like the layout. Do you have any pictures of the interior of your boat? There is another couple that has done something similar to what you are doing. Honeymoon is the name of their Lagoon 32ft. I was impressed at their attitudes through the trip, and they did a great job of documenting their voyage. You may want to check it out it’s pretty entertaining. sethhynes is their website. Take care and safe sailing.

    • Hi Brewster

      Although we haven’t read it in its entirety, we’re definitely aware of that blog. The boat they had was a Lagoon 38, not a 32 (they don’t make one that small).

      A 42′ Lagoon is huge compared to our boat. We’d love to have one too if we had the money. If you can afford, it, go for it. We’ve been on them and they are nice. That being said, we’d buy our friends’ Lagoon 38 that as for sail right now if we had the money!

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